When you need the lawn seeded, a bathroom tiled, your house reorganized or redecorated where do you turn to find reputable professionals? Since 2009, many Triangle residents have been joining HOCOA (Homeowners Contractors Association).
The organization connects homeowners needing repairs or renovations with insured, reliable trades people who will show up on time and do quality work, according to HOCOA Triangle president Rachel Bath.
Residents of Wake, Orange, Durham, North Chatham and Eastern Alamance can get HOCOAs on-call service 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and 52 weeks a year. Membership rates are $58 per year and discounted for those buying two- or three-year memberships. Bath says anyone is welcome to try her referral service once at no cost.
Bath and her partner, Michele Myers, started HOCOA Triangle three years ago. They say it is a natural extension of their knowledge base as long-time residential contractors. Myers and Bath, whose offices are in Bahama in northern Durham County, established M Squared Builders and Designers in 1996 as an environmentally conscious residential building company serving the Triangle.
Making life easier
With their co-worker, kitchen designer Wilma Oliver, Bath and Myers have worked with some very good subcontractors over the past 17 years and met a lot of professional craftsmen through participation in the Home Builders Association, Green Home Builders of the Triangle, North Carolina Preservation Society, Southern Energy Management, Advanced Energy, and the Energy and Environmental Association.
Myers has more than 33 years of experience in project management, contracting and systems engineering. She has a Masters Degree in management and an educational background in construction, building science, environmental science and chemistry. Bath, a Certified Public Accountant and Real Estate Broker, has 30 years experience in business management, strategic planning, teambuilding and employee development.
HOCOA has tripled in size since 2009 I think because we make life easier for our members, Bath said. It is very rewarding to be able to help people.
As an example, Bath told of HOCOA coming to the rescue after a Labor Day storm damaged a members house.
She contacted us late Sunday and we had someone there on Monday to remove the branch, tarp the roof and start the process of providing a more permanent solution, Bath said. They will give her the proper documentation for her insurance company and give her a quote on a roof repair.
Another member, Maryann Bassett of Chapel Hill, joined HOCOA Triangle in April 2011 after seeing the companys display at the annual Southern Ideal Home Show in Raleigh. She and her husband work full-time, and they grew weary of the time they spent trying to find a plumber or electrician when they needed something fixed. Their first experience with HOCOA trades people came after the basement flooded.
The people on call were just wonderful, Bassett said. I could have them work around my time, which is not always the case when I make a cold call to someone. I have been very happy with all the people electrician, plumber, carpet man.
Now she is in the midst of home redecorating and are using HOCOA recommended businesses to help.
The people HOCOA recommend are very reputable, Bassett said. I feel confident in recommending them to friends, family and coworkers because they have really good people.
Bassett said one of her coworkers has used HOCOA to get her fence painted and porch re-screened. She referred her daughter to HOCOA to have a bath re-tiled.
No job too big or too small
Scott and Susan Tilley used HOCOA quite a bit getting their house ready to sell a few years ago. Recently they used HOCOA to touch up their new home in Durhams Pleasant Green neighborhood.
The people we chose came when they said they were going to come and did what they said they were going to do, and we know HOCOA stands behind us, so if we were unhappy we wouldnt be on our own to get it remedied, Tilley said.
Suzy Holloway, an elementary school art teacher at Trinity School in Durham, signed up for a free trial membership to HOCOA Triangle last year. She has been remodeling the home she has lived in for 25 years in Durhams Brier Creek neighborhood near Research Triangle Park. Recently she remodeled her bathroom by adding a new tile floor, ceiling fan, vanity and sink.
I didnt have a regular plumber or electrician or handyman, and it gave me piece of mind knowing they were pre-screened, bonded and prices were good, Holloway said. It was almost like getting a recommendation from a friend.
The man HOCOA recommended was a general contractor who had knowledge of electric, carpentry and plumbing, Holloway said. His work was top notch and his prices were good and he did an excellent job. The company they recommended for the tile work also did a great job.
But perhaps best of all, according to the women interviewed, is the peace of mind they have knowing that HOCOAs Wilma Oliver will call after the job is finished.
It is reassuring that I can give my feedback and she checks up on the contractors work, Holloway said.
Bath says that relationship with members is key.
We talk to members to assist them in defining what contractor or contractors their situation really needs, Bath said. Do they want one or multiple estimates, any special instructions about pets or frail family members or other requirements they may have? And we follow up with members by phone, after the service, to find out if they received quality workmanship in a timely manner.
No job is too big or too small for HOCOA, Bath said. Contractors range from professional organizers, interior decorators and maids to the typical home repair contractors (carpenters, painters, electricians and HVAC specialists).
In addition to referrals, members receive discounts and special offers through participating businesses. Over the past three years, these offers have expanded to include wholesale pricing on appliances, TVs, mattresses, lawn equipment, flooring, tile, cabinets and countertops.
The savings for our members can be huge, Bath said.
HOCOA members also receive regular newsletters about new services.
I am always looking for ways to increase the value for our members, Bath said.
To that end, now HOCOA members can get discount tickets to many shows at the Durham Performing Arts Center as well.